Exhaustion and the Importance of Rest

I don’t usually do vacations. Planned rest has never been a thing I’m good at. For most of my adult life, I’ve either been working over 100 hours a week, or I’ve been sleeping 100 hours a week while unemployed between campaigns and in desperate need of making up my sleep deficit.

The New Organizing Institute changed my mindset around rest.

In the leadup to the 2014 Data BootCamp, my boss took some time in our weekly check-in to ask: “How are you spending your comp time?” Comp time is a foreign concept in most of the progressive world. The idea is that for every hour (or day) you work overtime, you take that time off at some point in the next month. “Comp time” for me had always been that period of unemployment; forced vacation, not a reward. For BootCamp, comp time meant nearly 7 days off.

Excited that I had an employer who really meant it when they offered comp time, I turned to my sister (whose college graduation I was missing to run BootCamp), and offered a trip to Puerto Rico. She obviously said yes.

A few days after BootCamp, we were on a plane – our first sister trip without mom and dad. As soon as I landed and enjoyed my complimentary rum and coke, courtesy of our AirBnB, I decided to check my email, just to make sure I hadn’t forgotten to follow up with a trainer or coach or colleague post-BootCamp.

What happened next totally changed my view on vacation.

I replied to a colleague’s email that my boss was cc’d on, and my boss threatened to disconnect my email if I kept checking in with work. He said, “Comp time is too important. Take this time to rejuvenate.”

The next week was the most relaxing week I’ve ever experienced in my adult life. I had the blessing from my boss not to check in, I had no pending deadlines hanging over my head, I had a job waiting for me back on the mainland. It was amazing.


 

After this 2016 Data BootCamp, it’s been exhausting trying to return to work without that rest that my boss forced upon me back in 2014. Sadly, I don’t have the luxury this time to take a break; I need to catch up on the schoolwork and work work that I neglected while planning for Data BootCamp. This means that I’m very much looking forward to my Spring Break adventures to Israel and Turkey next month!

And next time I say yes to something crazy, like planning a week-long data training, I’m making sure I can build in a week of vacation afterward to someplace warm!

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